GARDINER — When the Gardiner City Council meets this week, elected officials are expected to hear an overview of the proposed fiscal 2021 budget that is about 6.4% more than current spending.

Gardiner Mayor Patricia Hart discusses her agenda for the city Jan. 19 at the Gardiner Food Co-op.

“We want to craft a budget that provides the services people want and that recognizes the challenges our residents and businesses are facing and will continue to face as we work our way through the virus outbreak,” Gardiner Mayor Patricia Hart said Monday.

“While each year’s budgeting process is based on estimates of future revenues, this year we face a great deal of uncertainty in future revenues. We know our revenues will be lower — revenue sharing and other state aid will be lower based on reports from the state — and some of the local tax receipts will be lower. We just don’t know how much lower.”

The spending plan, which totals $6,584,923, is 6.4% more than the current budget and reflects anticipated increases in costs for benefits to city workers, an expected increase in workers’ compensation insurance rates and increases related to union contracts, Gardiner City Manager Christine Landes said.

While there has been a lag in excise tax collections because of curtailment of government services during the shutdown of state and local government offices to slow the spread of coronavirus, Landes said collections are expected to resume when those offices open again.

At the same time, the spending proposal is factoring in an expected drop in state revenue sharing and adding in $500,000 from the city’s undesignated fund balance.

After years of fiscally responsible management by city staff and city council, Hart said Gardiner’s fund balance can be tapped to help balance the spending plan.

The City Council is expected to discuss the budget at its May 27 and June 3 meetings. At the second meeting, the council is expected to schedule public hearings on the budget, with a final adoption anticipated for June 24.

At the same time, the Gardiner-area school district and Kennbec County are finalizing their budgets this month. Those budgets, in addition to Gardiner’s city budget, will determine Gardiner’s property tax rate for the next year.

The City Council is also expected to consider:

• Adoption of the updated policy establishing a tobacco-free and smoke-free area in Gardiner.

• Appointments to city boards and committees.

• Written updates from Johnson Hall, Gardiner Main Street and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kennebec County.

• Issues with City Hall and the Public Safety building, and the mold report.

• Adding three firefighters to the Fire Department.

• Acceptance of the meeting minutes from April 8.

Two executive sessions are scheduled for the start of the meeting. The first is to discuss union negotiations,  the second will focus on the Libby Hill Business Park.

As a result, the regular meeting, which can be viewed on Facebook Live, is expected to start at about 7 p.m.

Because of limits on public gatherings, all comments should be sent to Landes at [email protected] or via regular mail to Landes at Gardiner City Hall, 6 Church St., Gardiner, ME, 04345.

Residents may also call 582-4200 during regular business hours.

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